The following is a compilation of the unedited responses from Kim Olson, candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, to the 2018 Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide Questionnaire. Olson is unopposed in the March 6th Texas Democratic primary and will meet the Republican Party's nominee in November.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Farmer, veteran (Col., USAF ret.), pilot, administrator, public servant
Please list any of your political, civic or non-profit experience.
For 25 years Kim served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to rank of Colonel. She was among the first generation of female military pilots, and commanded troops in combat zones, including Iraq. Following retirement from the Air Force, she chose to serve again, for three years with the Texas State Guard.
Kim was HR director with Dallas ISD and was elected to two terms on the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees, which was named Texas Outstanding Board of the Year during her tenure. She authored "Iraq and Back, Inside the War to Win the Peace" and was President of the nonprofit Grace After Fire to support female veterans returning from combat. Her commitment to Texans earned her an induction into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
What is your educational background?
Bachelor's Degree in Education
Two more master's, both in National Security
Certified Texas AgriLife Master Gardener
Why did you decide to run for agriculture commissioner?
With a $200 billion impact on our economy, and 1 in 7 jobs dependent on agriculture, the role of Agriculture Commissioner touches all our lives. As a major industry in Texas, our jobs and our economy rely on agriculture. Farmers and ranchers take care of the natural resources that we all need, now and in years to come. Our children depend on nutritious school meals so they can be prepared to learn. My platform represents months of travel throughout the state listening to Texans from every walk of life about the issues they care about.
What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?
As a fourth generation farmer, she learned early in life to serve as a steward of our land, air, and water and now practices and shares those lessons on her own family farm in Palo Pinto County. Kim and her husband raise fresh fruits and vegetables sold through direct markets, keep bee hives for pollination and for honey, and cultivate native grasses which are cut for hay. She utilizes sustainable, regenerative practices that ensure that the farm’s resources will be available for future generations of farmers.
What should the Agriculture Commissioner's role be in advocating for farmers and ranchers in Texas?
I am dedicated to a sustainable future for agriculture, improving domestic and export markets, promoting rural development, and ensuring access to healthy food for all Texans. Directing resources towards rural development, new/beginning farmers, economic viability of farms, healthy school meals, and national/international marketing are among our strategies.
Are there any services currently offered by the Texas Department of Agriculture that you would like to see eliminated? Are there any services you would like to see added? If so, please list those services.
At present, there are no services that I would propose for elimination or added, although there are several service areas that could be improved. These include disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers, support for school districts to meet high nutrition standards for our children, proper training, regulation, and enforcement to ensure farmers have the information needed to avoid the risk of improper pesticide use, development of domestic and international markets, farmland preservation, equitable water policy, and promoting healthy food access.
Do you plan to advocate any issues to the Texas Legislature? If so, which issues?
Priority Issues: Economy and Jobs, Land and Water, Healthy Texans, Local Foods
Economy and Jobs
Farming and ranching are the backbone of the Texas economy. Agriculture in Texas has an economic impact of over $100 billion and accounts for 1 in every 7 jobs. Strengthening our agricultural sector means supporting prosperity for our entire state. This includes our focus on rural development, economic viability of family farms, taking advantage of the organic market opportunities, and supporting new and beginning farmers.
Land and Water
Land, water, and all our state's natural resources are necessary to sustain life. Covering over 130 million acres of land in Texas, our farmers and ranchers are stewards of these resources and need our support to sustain their farms so that future generations can appreciate their value, as well. Our strategies will include advocating for water planning and policies that protect farmers and landowners' rights, prevent farmland loss, and promote regenerative agriculture.
The health of our children and families is critical. Healthy children are better students, and a healthy workforce is more productive. Ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply supports a healthy economy and quality of life for Texas families. Our approach will entail compliance with school meal nutrition standards while providing schools with tools and resources needed to provide affordable, flavorful, and culturally appropriate foods, improving access to healthy foods in rural and urban areas, and supporting scale-appropriate regulations that ensure a safe food supply.
Perhaps local food is trendy in the urban centers. Considering the economic potential for Texas farmers, the "eat local" trend can enhance the prosperity of rural areas and help connect Texans with the culture of agriculture in our state. Continued support for direct markets, such as farmers markets, promoting cooperation among farmers for processing, marketing, and distribution, and capitalizing on the GO TEXAN brand as an in-state marketing tool and a means of promoting Texas products through national and international markets.
Are you supported by any political action committees? If so, which ones?
Do you have any aspirations for higher office?
Why should voters choose you in 2018?
Kim Olson, farmer, veteran, pilot and champion of education, is dedicated to influencing the future of sustainable food production, improving markets for Texas ag products, and encouraging rural and urban development that improves access to healthy food. Kim is the 2018 Democratic nominee for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.
As a U.S. Air Force Colonel and pilot, farmer, business person, administrator, and an honored public servant, Kim Olson is uniquely qualified to provide knowledgeable, reliable, and respectable leadership in state government and will focus on the food and agriculture issues that matter to Texans. Kim Olson is committed to serving all Texans as Commissioner of Agriculture with honor and integrity.